In 2021, the government and GRID3 were working to use GRID3 data in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination outreach when it was decided that these data could also be used to improve outreach for the upcoming HPV campaign, as well as for campaigns geared towards reaching children missed during earlier routine immunisation campaigns. The ministry and EPI asked GRID3 to create a set of multi-purpose maps that could estimate the right denominator (i.e. how many people need vaccines) and locate the target group (i.e. where those people who need vaccines live) for each campaign.
The HPV campaign targeted two groups of 10-year-old girls: those currently enrolled in school and those who are out of school. School teachers identified eligible students in the former population while community health workers identified eligible girls in the latter.
In prior vaccination campaigns, Sierra Leone had been using hand-drawn maps of the country’s districts. GRID3’s new multipurpose maps would be geospatially based; using GRID3 data on population (broken down by age and sex groups), settlements, and school data from the Ministry for Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), the maps are a significant improvement over the hand-drawn maps. The maps were produced much faster, are more accurate, facilitate the calculation of distances between settlements, and can be used to identify hard-to-reach areas. These advantages help to improve the microplanning that takes place in advance of vaccination outreach (microplanning is the process health workers use to optimally deploy resources, including vaccines and personnel, to ensure that vulnerable populations are reached during health campaigns).
In total, 223 maps were produced (16 district-level, 190 chiefdom-level, and 17 township level). In addition to information relating to populations in need of HPV, COVID-19, and RI vaccine doses, the maps also contain data on health facility locations, schools, and sites that can be served by mobile vaccination teams. Additionally, the maps show travel times to nearest health facilities; settlement names, points, and extents; and health facility catchment area boundaries.